Officials in Texas believe they have recovered the body of Sherin Mathews, the three-year-old girl who went missing after her father made her stand alone in an alley at 3 a.m. as punishment for refusing to drink her milk.
According to the Washington Post, officers found the body of a young child in a culvert near Spring Valley and Bowser roads, located approximately one mile from the Mathews’ home.
The Richardson Police Department posted an update to their FaceBook page on Sunday afternoon:
“Since the time Sherin Mathews was reported missing on Saturday morning, October 7th, the Richardson Police Department and other law enforcement entities have been working 24/7 to locate her. Today, 10/22/17, at approximately 11:00am, during one of those search operations, the body of a small child was discovered in the area of E. Spring Valley Rd. and S. Bowser Rd. The area has been blocked off as a crime scene. We are awaiting the FBI Evidence Recovery Team to respond. The adjacent neighborhoods can expect to experience some disruptions during this time.“
Although authorities have not officially stated that the body they have recovered is that of Sherin Mathews, a police spokesperson stated that “investigators have no reason to believe that the body belongs to another missing child”. An autopsy is currently underway to ascertain cause of death and to positively identify the body. The Mathews’ family has been notified of the discovery.
Wesley Mathews, Sherin’s father, told authorities that the family had adopted her from an orphanage in India last year, according to ABC News. He said that she was extremely malnourished and was placed on a diet that required her to eat whenever she was awake. At 3 a.m., Sherin Mathews allegedly refused to drink milk that her father had given her; as punishment, he led her to a tree in an alleyway and told her to stand there, leaving her alone.
Fifteen minutes later, he went to check up on her, but she had vanished. Mathews looked around for some time, but ultimately postponed the search to do laundry and wait for her to come home or for daylight to better search for her. It wasn’t until 8 a.m. — five hours after her initial disappearance — that her father reported Sherin missing. He was later arrested on child abandonment and endangerment charges; he has since been released on bail.
Sherin’s 4-year-old sister has also been taken into police custody and is currently in foster care. A hearing has been scheduled for Monday morning to determine if she is safe in the Mathews’ home.
Mathews’ wife, Sini Mathews, is not believed to be involved in the incident and was reportedly asleep at the time of Sherin’s disappearance.